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Main > Russia folktales > Fairy tale "The Golden Fish"

The Golden Fish

Then they went in together. And everything within the hut was new and clean. There were a fine big stove, and strong wooden benches, and a good table, and a fire lit in the stove, and logs ready to put in, and a samovar already on the boil—a fine new samovar of glittering brass.

You would have thought the old woman would have been satisfied with that. Not a bit of it.

"You don't know how to lift your eyes from the ground," says she. "You don't know what to ask. I am tired of being a peasant woman and a moujik's wife. I was made for something better. I want to be a lady, and have good people to do the work, and see folk bow and curtsy to me when I meet them walking abroad. Go back at once to the fish, you old fool, and ask him for that, instead of bothering him for little trifles like bread troughs and moujiks' huts. Off with you."

The old fisherman went back to the shore with a sad heart; but he was afraid of his wife, and he dared not disobey her. He stood on the shore, and called out in his windy old voice,—

"Head in air and tail in sea, Fish, fish, listen to me."

Instantly there was the golden fish looking at him with its wise eyes.

"Well?" says the fish.

"My old woman won't give me a moment's peace," says the old man; "and since she has the new hut—which is a fine one, I must say; as good a hut as ever I saw—she won't be content at all. She is tired of being a peasant's wife, and wants to be a lady with a house and servants, and to see the good folk curtsy to her when she meets them walking abroad."

"Go home," says the fish.

The old man went home, thinking about the hut, and how pleasant it would be to live in it, even if his wife were a lady.

But when he got home the hut had gone, and in its place there was a fine brick house, three stories high. There were servants running this way and that in the courtyard. There was a cook in the kitchen, and there was his old woman, in a dress of rich brocade, sitting idle in a tall carved chair, and giving orders right and left.

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